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Week 31: Main Report – 1950 World Cup

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Continuing our World Cup countdown we feature one of the most dramatic tournaments to have taken place, the 1950 World Cup in Brazil in this week’s main report. You can listen to the report by clicking above while vocabulary support can be found for the words in bold at the foot of the post.



The 1950 World Cup was the first tournament to be held after the Second World War and as much of Europe’s infrastructure had been destroyed, FIFA turned to Brazil to host the fourth World Cup. Before the competition had even started there was drama with many teams pulling out for a variety of reasons: Argentina didn’t go because they were in dispute with their neighbours Brazil, Scotland had qualified by coming second in their group behind England but refused to travel as they were not British champions. Turkey pulled out and then so did their replacements, France, while India withdrew because they were not allowed to play barefoot. Austria felt their team was too young while Germany were banned from international competition leaving a total of 13 teams to participate.

Group Stages


Rather bizarrely the 13 teams were divided into 4 groups, two of which contained 4 teams, one with three and one group comprised only Uruguay and Bolivia with the Uruguayans easily qualifying. The hosts found themselves in the same group as Mexico, Switzerland and Yugoslavia and despite only drawing with the Swiss managed to make it to the final stage. Sweden also made it there after knocking out Italy which may have seemed a surprise but the Italian side had been badly depleted after an air crash in 1949 had killed all of the Torino squad, a squad that had dominated Italian football and indeed made up the bulk of the national side. England, making their first ever appearance in a World Cup, were expected to qualify from their group but succumbed to one of the most embarrassing defeats in their history when they lost 0-1 to the USA. So unthinkable was this defeat that many back home thought there had been a misprint in their newspapers on reading about Joe Gaetjens’ goal.

The Final Stage


FIFA had decided that there would be no final match in this competition but instead there was a group play-off between the final four teams. The hosts Brazil thrashed Sweden 7-1 and then trounced Spain 6-1 meaning that they only needed a draw against their South American neighbours from Uruguay who had beaten Spain but drawn with Sweden. The whole of Brazil was confident of victory with the mayor of Rio de Janeiro proclaiming the team as world champions before the game had even kicked off and newspapers already preparing front page headlines describing the Brazilians as champions. Approximately 200.000 people crammed into the newly built Maracana Stadium to watch this coronation and when Brazil went 1-0 up it seemed that everyone’s belief had been correct. But with 30 minutes remaining Uruguayan star Schiaffino scored and then 20 minutes later the unthinkable happened – Gigghia beat Brazilian keeper Barbosa at the near post to snatch an unlikely victory for Uruguay. They had won their second World Cup and left Brazil stunned.


to host: To hold the tournament, the place where the competition takes place

pulling out: To withdraw, to not play for a reason

were in dispute with: To not have friendly relations with (arguing with)

to play barefoot: To play football without football boots

Rather bizarrely: Strangely, seemingly no reason for the decision

comprised: Made up of

The hosts: The country where the competition takes place (Brazil)

depleted: To have been weakened

made up the bulk of : To have supplied most of the national team from one club (Torino).

succumbed to: To lose out to

thrashed: To be badly beaten

trounced: To be badly beaten

crammed into: Packed into, too many people in one place

to snatch an unlikely victory: To win when no one expected it, snatch suggests stole the victory!

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